Yesterday morning I was barely awake when I got the call that my Grandma had died.
She had been sick for years now, confined to a chair and her small living room, hooked up to oxygen–even long before my Dad died. It was expected to happen and we had been bracing ourselves for the last few years, but…but.
But I wasn’t ready to lose someone else of course. Just as I hadn’t been ready for all the other losses I’ve had within just a few short years. Two of my cousins, my uncle, my great-grandma, two of my grandpas, my sister-in-law, my dad–most of them had a sickness that prompted us to prepare but no matter how many times I rehearsed in my head how it would feel and how a world without each of them would be, nothing prepared me for the wash of nausea that came as I held the phone, the tears that sprang to my eyes, the emptiness that filled my heart.
You see, grandparents are expected to die eventually because of their age but my grandma had always been the young-at-heart, spunky, nails-done, hair-done kind of lady. In my child’s heart she’d never die because her soul was as young as mine.
She taught me when I was barely seven years old how to budget, how to shop smart, how to balance a check book and save up slowly for things I want. She taught me how to give–liberally, in fact. She taught me that things are just things but people are everything. She taught me how to give grace to those who are different and to laugh at our own expense. She smelled like White Diamonds, looked like Elizabeth Taylor, and reminded me of a spunkier, *sometimes crasser* version of Christ. Losing her meant losing a wonderful, larger-than-life person and giving me a memory in its place. A lot of memories, in fact. Enough to fill up a whole lifetime.
Losing hurts. No matter what the loss. And I know you’re nodding your head right now because you’ve also experienced your fair share. I’ve read your stories, your comments, your messages about the sleepless nights and the empty chairs at sad tables. Especially lately, more than ever, your stories have come pouring in from all over the globe. I know that there are people out there grieving a lost job, a wayward child, a reputation. Maybe you have lost faith in a friend or a church. Maybe you have lost your house, your money–your marriage. Maybe you’ve lost it all and wonder if you’ve even lost yourself.
And that stinks. When I lost my Dad I thought I knew how to do this whole losing thing. I had gone through the worst of it, and anything that follow would be a piece of cake. But it’s never a piece of cake. Well, you’ll eat a piece of cake. Maybe a whole cake or tub of ice cream as you watch a sad movie. But it’s not easy.
But the gentle reminder from the spirit in those quiet moments reminds us that for all that we’ve lost, we’ve gained so much more.
John 12:24 says so beautifully, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
What a beautiful promise that every time something falls away from us, it grows in another way within our lives–whether in this life or the next. Nothing is gone forever. He loves us too much. I’ve never thought about things in that perspective until I stumbled upon that scripture today and read it a few times over. Death, loss, failures, and goodbyes–those all amount to fruit that we will see throughout our lives. I see that fruit as strength, lessons, courage, friendships and opportunities–and eternal life.
I suppose I could pity myself that I’ve lost so many beautiful people in my life and have stood at so many funerals that I’ve almost lost count. I can replay the horror in my mind and agonize over the things I didn’t say or wish I’d done. But it’s so much better to think of all I’ve gained through the lives that have touched mine, even after losing them. Maybe even especially after losing them.
For all that you’ve lost so far in your life, you’ve gained so much more. You maybe don’t see it now through the tears, but it is a promise to you. One you should hold on to.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” Romans 8:18 says.
And that glory is already starting to come through.
That’s why you’re still here.